Producing good content isn't enough

People say the secret to successful blogging is to "keep putting out good content".

But that's not totally true.

You could be writing amazing posts that nobody hears about.

My readers often send me samples of their writing: these are brilliant designers, developers, and entrepreneurs. They have great insights they could be sharing with the world. But their voice is small. They keep blogging, but nobody hears them.

There's this fallacy that good content always gets discovered; but the truth is that good content needs distribution in order to be seen.

I remember getting my first taste of this when Derek Sivers tweeted out a link to my blog. My site had been chugging along at 10-40 views a day. Even though I was trying to promote my posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and in the comments of other blogs, I had barely broken 100 views a day.

And then one day I decided to email Derek Sivers one of my posts. He liked it. He shared it with his followers, and I had my biggest day yet: 781 views!

That was my first glimpse at the power of networks. Derek's one tweet had more of an impact than all of my hustling. A little bit of effort from him was worth much, much more than what I could achieve on my own. He graciously allowed me to reach the audience he'd been building since 1998.

Good content is still important. Derek obviously cares about his audience: these are the friends, customers, and colleagues he's met over a lifetime. These are his people. A tweet may seem like a small thing, but, to Derek, everything he shares with his followers is important. He wants to be thoughtful in what he passes along.

Instead of being thoughtful, we often start with "our own great ideas". We have a personal thought, write it down, and then blast it out to the world. Then we wonder why no one cared.

Getting traction with content is a lot like product-market fit. Focus first on what a particular community needs, and work your way backwards from there.

Once you have something people really need, then you can find distribution. And yes, finding distribution means taking your best content to key individuals and communities.

This is where you need to connect with targeted networks bigger than yourself. The "Digg effect" is still important, but you don't want to just hook up to a firehose of traffic. Rather, it's about connecting your message with communities that need it.

Also: don't beg random celebrities to re-tweet your stuff. Instead: build relationships. Hang out with people in online communities. The more connected you are, the better you'll understand the pulse of a given audience.

One last thought: it's not just about numbers. With the aforementioned knowledge in-hand, I've been able to connect with much larger audiences (This is a web page hit 78,763 views in one day). But I also understand that not every post will (or needs to) hit it big. For instance, in 6 days J.F.D.I. produced about 11,000 views, but has already produced a vibrant community.

What's important is that when you create something meaningful, you're able to connect it with a group of people who can benefit from it.

Justin Jackson

PS: I know there's a lot of you trying to get traction on your personal blogs, corporate sites, and landing pages. This is what Amplification is about: it's a course I wrote to help you take your best content, and truly share it with the world. I've also hidden a picture of me with the best nerd mullet of all time somewhere in the Amplification course. You'll have to order it to see it!

Published on September 1st, 2013
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